It should make sense that a slight underexposure will make black tones appear more black than gray (and vice versa for white tones). You've seen already that an underexposed image is darker than a regular exposure, so a bit of underexposure can be just what you need to restore a dark object to its true tone.
Like black and white, color also has a tone. Some reds are darker than others, for example. Consequently, it's possible to adjust the saturation of a color in your image by over- or underexposing. For example, consider this image, which I shot using the camera's recommended metering and with a 1/3-stop underexposure.
Notice that the colors are a little bit more saturated and generally richer. This is because they have a slightly darker tone that needs to be underexposed to appear correct.
In general, when shooting in bright daylight, you might find that leaving your exposure compensation set to -1/3 gives you better saturation and deeper color. However, be aware that you'll run the risk of losing detail in the very darkest parts of your image, and lighter tones may render a little gray.
REMINDER: Slide Shooting Techniques at Work in the Digital World
If you have ever shot slide film, this last recommendation might sound familiar. In general, when shooting in JPEG mode on the T1i, you should keep all of your slide film exposure habits.
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Although we usually tend to think of the digital camera as the best thing since sliced bread, there are both pros and cons with its use. Nothing is available on the market that does not have both a good and a bad side, but the key is to weigh the good against the bad in order to come up with the best of both worlds.